Exploring Orvieto — Photo courtesy of ho visto nina volareIf the chaos of Rome has ruffled your feathers and you desperately need to be whisked away on a quick day trip, you might consider heading to the lovely medieval village of Orvieto. Believe it or not, Orvieto isn’t even in the same region as Rome. That’s right. The Ancient City is located in the region of Lazio while Orvieto is situated in Umbria, the region of green rolling hills. Yet despite its location, its very easy get to by train and makes a delightful little day trip.
How to Get There
Orvieto is a charming medieval village with just over 20,000 residents. It can be easily reached by train from Rome's Termini Train Station. The train takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there and costs roughly 14 euros roundtrip on the regional train. Conveniently, there are trains that leave every hour for Orvieto, which makes planning less of a headache. Once you reach the train station in Orvieto, you'll need to take the funicular (funiculare) or cable car to get up to the centro of the city. Alternatively, you can take a mini-bus from the train station into the city center. Both leave for the centro storico every 10 minutes and the ticket costs approximately 1 euro.
Sights to See
The Duomo in Orvieto — Photo courtesy of ho visto nina volareThe sights to see in Orvieto are several. Perhaps the most site and the true gem of this town is its Duomo, a beautiful example of gothic architecture in Italy. It was constructed under the orders of Pope Urban IV around 1290. The entire construction of the cathedral is said to have taken nearly 3 centuries to finish. What attracts visitors to the Duomo apart from its unique gothic design are its golden mosaics on its facade and its frescoed chapels with images of Judgement Day inside.
Another sight to see or tour rather is of the underground city. Visitors can tour Orvieto Undergound as it was nearly 2,500 years ago when the first Etruscans created this 'second' city in Orvieto. The tour is about an hour long and it takes you around tunnels and secret passageways virtually left intact below the ground and gives you a glimpse of what life was like back in the day. The ticket costs roughly 5,50 euros and children under 5 can take the tour for free.
Another important sight is the Pozzo di San Patrizio (Saint Patrick's well). It was built in 1527 by the order of Pope Clement VII. It was designed by Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane to supply water to the residents of Orvieto in case of an attack or siege on the city. It gets its name from St. Patrick because it allegedly looks a lot like the cave where the saint would retreat for prayer and penitence. The well has two intricately crafted staircases totaling about 248 steps that donkeys and mules back in the day, used to make their way down the well to collect the water. Tickets for the well run 3,50 euros a person.
Where to Eat
Pasta with Tartufo — Photo courtesy of UmbriaLoversFor a nice lunch or dinner in Orvieto, a good restaurant serving up typical Umbrian fare is Le Grotte del Funaro. The restaurant is uniquely situated in an ancient medieval grotto that was once used to manufacture ropes. The restaurant specializes in pasta made with tartufo, Umbrian sausages and other typical dishes.